Brooklyn transplant Steven Salamone is happy to describe what traditional New York pizza is, but first he explains what it’s not.
It’s not fancy. It’s not loaded with toppings. It’s not expensive.
With that out of the way, Salamone is eager to explain what New York pizza is: Convenient, easy to eat with one hand and built with simple ingredients.
Salamone understands when he opens his new pizza restaurant, Salamone’s Pizza, in Tacoma’s Stadium neighborhood later this month that he’ll likely have some explaining to do.
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Tacoma’s a pretty diverse pizza scene, but none of it is exactly the style Salamone will serve, at least not since Ah Badabing closed. That South Tacoma restaurant was as close as we got to New York pizza.
Salamone’s Pizza is modeled after what he grew up eating in Brooklyn. There’s a specific formula New York City ex-pats expect that Salamone plans to fulfill. The pizzas will be big — 18 inches apiece — and pies will be cooked in a deck oven and cut into eight slices. If you’re thinking those sound like decently sized slices, they are. That’s because New York pizza is built to be folded over.
That’s the way serious pizza eaters on the other coast tackle their slice. Call it the fold-and-hold. Grab the pizza firmly, fold it in half and jam into your mouth. The hold is pretty genius because it creates a channel to capture the toppings. It also allows diners to eat fast or while walking.
“The first thing you’ll notice is the dough. It’ll have crisp on the bottom. It’ll have some good air in it. There will be bubbles and that’s the yeast doing its job,” Salamone said.
His sauce will be made from Stanislaus plum tomatoes from California, and his standard cheese will be dry mozzarella from Wisconsin.
Like the Brookyln pizzerias Salamone grew up on, the pizza will be grab-and-go and on display at the counter so diners can pick whichever kind they want. Beverages will be serve-yourself cans of soda.
Pizza will rotate through the counter quickly.
“You can choose this slice or that slice. We’ll warm it up for you,” said Salamone.
He expects to offer up to eight topping choices at a time. Don’t see the topping you want? He’ll customize slices with toppings and reheat those to order.
The dining room of the former Tully’s, near Stadium Thriftway, has been remodeled to look more like a pizza den than a coffee house. It’ll seat about 25 diners in the 1,200-square-foot space.
Whole cooked-to-order pies will be available. Salamone expects take-out and delivery to do well at his restaurant. Delivery most likely will be during lunch and dinner hours.
He’s working on the menu now, but it’ll include about a half dozen specialty pies, including a white pizza; one with jalapeno, pepperoni and onion; one with sliced peppers and onion; and a build-your-own option.
Taking an early look at the menu, it’s priced to be among the most affordable restaurants in the Stadium neighborhood. A slice of Salamone’s pizza will be about three bucks and he plans lunch specials of two slices and a can of soda for about $6. Students with identification — Stadium High School is steps away — get an even better daily deal, $2 slices and $1 sodas after school.
The planned hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Salamone grew up in a Sicilian family in Brooklyn. He met his wife, who grew up in Puyallup, while they both were students at University of Washington. They moved to the other coast so she could attend medical school and he could work on Wall Street, but moved back a few years ago. They live in Tacoma with their children.